With Murphy out, Garneau, Bemboom closer to Majors

Young catchers warranting opportunity in camp

With Murphy out, Garneau, Bemboom closer to Majors

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A catcher's path to the Majors is full of obstacles that are often beyond a player's control. So, the Rockies' Dustin Garneau and Anthony Bemboom are simply taking care of what they can.

Garneau, 29, has spent several years improving his offense, and the result has been a .400 batting average (6-for-15) this spring. With Tom Murphy out 4-6 weeks with a hairline fracture in his right arm, Garneau's offense, his strong arm and his special attention to receiving appear to have him in line for his first Opening Day in the Majors in a catching tandem with Tony Wolters.

Bemboom, 27, was selected by the Rockies from the Angels in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Known as a catch-and-throw guy, Bemboom's first two hits of the spring were home runs. With Murphy presumably out, another injury could leave Bemboom next in line for the Majors.

Teams are always tempted to pick up veteran catchers. But the Rockies have gone with young backstops since they decided not to re-sign Nick Hundley.

Garneau was in good shape last year, until the Rockies plucked Wolters from the Indians last spring. But after hitting .157 in 22 games in 2015, and improving to .235 in 24 games last year, Garneau -- who has thrown out 42 percent of potential base-stealers in the Majors and 38 percent in extensive Minor League time -- is building offensive credibility and erasing reasons to deny him.

"I'm just building on what I did last year, and trying to be as comfortable as I can at the plate," Garneau said. "And the coaches have let me swing. I can be myself and have good, quality at-bats right now.

"For me, it's like it's always been in my career. I have to prove I'm not a liability at the plate."

Entering Wednesday's game against the Brewers, Bemboom had caught 19 Spring Training innings. A .233 hitter over six seasons in the Minors, Bemboom has thrown out 32 percent of potential base-stealers in his professional career.

Bemboom hits two-run homer

While Bemboom has impressed in camp, he also could see his path become murky if the Rockies sign a catcher with Major League experience for depth at Triple-A Albuquerque. Still, the Rockies must keep Bemboom in Triple-A or offer him back to the Angels. His play in camp warrants opportunity.

Being a catcher, and knowing opportunities are hard to come by, Bemboom spent the offseason working on his offense, while continuing to expand his baseball knowledge throughout his career.

"I guess I have a little bit of patience," Bemboom said. "I've tried to advance on the mental side of it as fast as possible, taking as much information as possible from guys like [Rockies manager] Bud [Black] and the pitching coaches that you've worked with. I've talked to pitching coaches a ton, realizing there's more to the game."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.